It’s Not Us, It’s You on
Sunday November 19, 2017
   // It’s Not Us, It’s You
Written by Greg McInerney

It’s Not Us, It’s You

The United States and Ireland have apparently always maintained what political figures on both side of the Atlantic term in unison cliché, “a special relationship”. As with all clichés there is of course a remnant of validity. Ireland’s history of mass emigration to the United States has germinated a rich Irish-American culture that continues to this day and in reciprocation the United States represents the second largest tourist market to our own island. However the United States is far from monogamous in its bilateral love-ins. U.S. governments have always spoken of their special relationships with Britain and Israel amongst others and it is the company of these bedfellows that should lead us to wonder if it is in fact a relationship worth having.

It was certainly an extension of our nations’ intimacy when Bertie Ahern’s Fianna Fail government permitted the US military unlimited and unsupervised use of Shannon airport to facilitate its illegal war in Iraq and conflict in Afghanistan. Jets and bombers were allowed to refuel at the second largest airport in Ireland on their merry way to the killing of innocent civilians. Perhaps of even greater repulsiveness were the rendition flights that passed through the airport, totaling 50 individual flights according to Amnesty International. These flights were carrying individuals who had not been subject to any judicial proceedings or review, to various sites around the world for “enhanced interrogation”, or torture to the layman. All the while the bumbling buffoon Ahern assured the Irish public that “the great George Bush” as he put it had personally guaranteed him that no rendition flights were travelling through our country and that no investigation was necessary despite Amnesty’s findings as well as a BBC Panorama investigation which contained similar, incriminating details. Confirmation of course subsequently emerged as part of a US court case that there were indeed many rendition flights stopping over at Shannon airport.

Historically Ireland has been seen as a supporter of the Palestinian cause since the foundation of the Israeli state. Ireland had refused to establish relations with Israel before 1975 due to Israel’s violations of UN Resolutions and the Irish Army contributed heavily to UN peacekeeping forces in South Lebanon, opposing Israeli forces and their proxy Lebanese militias. More recently however Irish support has taken on a more timid, superficial form in steady parallel to the escalation of the United States’ role in the conflict. Although the government publicly declares its disagreement with the inhumane Gaza blockade, it has done absolutely nothing to further its misgivings into any kind of discernible action, instead preferring to defer to general European Union policies which offer little in the way of reprimand of Israel or support for the Palestinian people. Most critically of all the Irish government refuses to implicate the United States as one of the key obstructions to the resolution of the conflict. As the US continues to veto UN resolutions critical of Israel, supply it with copious amounts of aid (military and otherwise), support the Gaza blockade, affirm Israeli-Iranian threats of war and back Israel’s right to indiscriminately target Palestinian civilians in military incursions, the Irish government remains silent.

Each St. Patrick’s Day the Taoiseach scurries over to the White House with rocket leaves adorning his blazer and filling his offertory bowl. There is of course reciprocity though thankfully much less frequent, with US presidents occasionally popping over to drink a Guinness conveniently in front of a mass of photographers. The most recent of which was dear ol’ Barry O’Bama, son of Moneygall Co.Offally apparently. This is a president who commands the most fawning celebrity status of any president in his own country since John. F Kennedy but surely the mass hysteria and delirium that greeted him upon his arrival to this country overreached anything an Ellen DeGeneres Show appearance could muster. Crowds massed in their thousands in the capital hoping to catch a glimpse, whilst the rest of the public lay agog in front of television coverage so adoring it could have been mistaken for BBC coverage of a royal event.
The media narrative was that of a coming messiah, here to lift us out of our recession-induced despair “Is Feidir Linn!” Not a column inch given to his drone war that perpetually menaces the lives of Pakistani civilians, no television pundit offering us contemplations on his unprecedented persecution of government and military whistleblowers like Bradley Manning, just omnipresent adoration and deference. Hilary Clinton too recently visited Dublin City University to give a speech on human rights in which she labeled Syrian president Bashar al-Assad a “war criminal”. As secretary of defense Clinton plied Assad’s opposition with weapons and ammunition, fuelling their own war crimes and further chaos in the country. Her expertise in the field of corrupt dictators is indeed unrivalled, once referring to overthrown Egyptian tyrant Hosni Mubarak as “a family friend” whilst enjoying cordial relationships with a number of other unelected dictators in the region. She firmly banged the drums of war to Iraq and Afghanistan, wars in which atrocities like the Fallujah massacre far surpassed anything the Syrian army has done to date. This is a woman who, if the Nuremburg principles were applied to her own actions, would surely follow Assad to the gallows.

One feature of the modern media is its ability to accurately account and analyze the events of news from other regions that do not conflict with the media outfit’s own vested interest, be that corporate or state-owned. The television stations Russia Today and Al-Jazeera for example offer refreshing critiques of US imperialism but their own regional political coverage is skewed and biased. Even the wretched US media can report quite truthfully about Chinese dissidents such as Ai Weiwei, lauding his heroism but seeing no irony in universally condemning Bradley Manning to guilt before trial. Given this pattern one would assume that the Irish media could and should write freely and openly on subjects relating to the United States. Nothing could be further from the truth. Irish newspapers regularly carry syndicated US columnists instead of their own reporting as it saves on expense so all we receive is a sanitized, second-hand offering. In the event that the newspaper employs its own reporter/columnist, they stick rigidly to the talking points of the US media, operating within the minute confines of domestically permissible criticism.

The bond that our two countries share is one born of people not governments and it should never be allowed to be hijacked and abused for political purposes. As a country that knows the ravages of imperialism all too well we should dedicate ourselves to those who now suffer its violence by opposing it as stringently as possible, even if it means tarnishing a “special relationship”.


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